A History of the County of Leicestershire: Volume 5, Gartree Hundred. Originally published by Victoria County History, London, 1964.
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Burton Overy is seven miles south-east of Leicester. The village stands on rising ground which forms the eastern slope of the Sence valley, and in the north-east the land rises to over 500 ft. The parish is wedge-shaped, the north-eastern boundary running along the Gartree road for about two miles. The south-eastern boundary, about three miles long, is formed by a small tributary of the Sence, and another small brook runs through the parish to join the River Sence at Great Glen. The soil consists largely of boulder clay, overlying Lower Lias clay and limestone, but the village itself is situated mainly on a patch of gravelly soil. In 1954 the parish was predominantly pasture, but there was a considerable amount of arable. The area of the parish is 1,889 a.
The road from Market Harborough to Leicester crosses the south-west of the parish, about a mile from the village. This road became a turnpike in 1726. (fn. 1) The village of Burton Overy is linked with this highway by a secondary road; this, like the lesser roads that link Burton with the villages of Great Glen, Carlton Curlieu, and Illston, was laid out anew by the inclosure commissioners in 1766 (fn. 2) but they may well have followed the general lines of roads already existing. The north-eastern boundary of the parish is formed by the Gartree road, here now an unmetalled track. The British Railways (Midland Region) line between Leicester and Market Harborough, opened as part of the Midland Railway in 1857, (fn. 3) and the Grand Union Canal, built in this area about 1797, (fn. 4) run through the southwest of Burton Overy for a short distance.
The recorded population was 34 in 1086 and 72 in 1377. In 1563 32 households were returned for the village, and in 1670 62. Returns of the number of communicants give 217 in 1603 and 122 in 1676. In 1801 the population was 399. It rose to 484 in 1851 and fell to 292 in 1901; the sharpest decline occurred between 1881 and 1891 when the total fell from 424 to 348. The population in 1951 was 259. (fn. 5)
The main street of the village runs approximately north and south, ending to the north in a cul-de-sac at the group of buildings known as Scotland. From here a footpath leads north to join the Gartree road where it fords the tributary of the River Sence. Most of the houses lie near the junction of the main street with the roads leading east and west to Carlton Curlieu and Great Glen respectively. Slightly further north a group of houses surrounds the parish church and the school. A row of small houses and bungalows, built in 1956–7, now fills the gap between this group and Scotland. There are 9 farmhouses in the village itself and a single isolated farm, Burton Grange, in the fields to the south-west.
The buildings are mostly of red brick but there are at least 8 houses which are wholly or in part timber-framed. In general these are rectangular three-bay buildings of post and truss construction without cross-wings, having steeply-pitched roofs which were originally thatched. None appears to date from before the 17th century. Scotland Farm is a two-bay house with a former stable at its west end and a later brick barn to the east. It retains its thatched roof but the wall timbers have been covered with brickwork. In the main street, Ridgefield and the house now used as a butcher's shop are three-bay timber structures, the latter carrying the date 1651 on a former fire-place lintel. Opposite, The Old House incorporates a similar building, but a tall front wing was added in the early 19th century. The roof of this wing has trusses with curved principals and old tie-beams, probably indicating the re-use of earlier timbers. In the angle between Bell Lane and the main street are ranges of timber-framed houses with brick panels which may date from as late as 1700. Further south a similar house adjoins the post office. At the south-east corner of the village, South View is a timber-framed cottage retaining some original mud walling but with a brick gableend dated 1739. The most substantial of the early houses is Manor House Farm in Back Lane. This is a three-bay building of which the lower story is of ironstone, retaining stone mullioned windows and an original doorway. The upper story, now faced with brickwork, is timber-framed and there are original attics. Between the central hall and the south bay is a stone chimney, having a four-centred fire-place in the south room. A moulded beam in this room is inscribed: F.R.A. 1650 W.M. (fn. 6) A staircase wing and a service wing at the rear, both of brick appear to be 18th-century additions.
In addition to the Rectory, which is the most imposing house in the village, there are several houses with good Georgian brick fronts. These include Manor Farm, a mid-18th-century building east of the church, The Elms, a late-18th-century private residence now a farm-house, White House Farm, and Burton House. At The Banks Farm there is a fine five-bay barn of ironstone and Georgian brick. The farm-house appears to consist of a stable range enlarged in the 19th century. Both this and the barn were doubtless originally attached to the Rectory. The former coachman's cottage, north of the Rectory, is used as part of the village hall, the hall itself being a wooden extension at the rear. Among the early-19th-century cottages in the village is a row near the post office having a thatched roof and pointed Gothic windows. The Bell Inn in the main street dates from the 20th century, the former inn being an early-19th-century cottage in Bell Lane. Two Swedish timber Council houses were erected near the cross-roads soon after 1945 and two pairs of brick houses to the west of the village in 1953.
Between 1945 and 1958 about a dozen new houses were built at Burton Overy for people working in Leicester, and existing houses were increasingly occupied by people working in the city.
A little to the west of the present village, on either side of the stream which traverses the parish, are some earthworks, now known as the Banks. On the east side of the stream the earthworks consist of a bank and ditch forming a large enclosure in the shape of a rough square, with sides about 300 ft. long. On the west of the stream the surviving remains consist only of banks and mounds in which no definite plan can be traced. Nothing certain is known of the origin of the earthworks, but as they are on gravelly soil, and near the stream, they may be traces of the medieval village. (fn. 7) The site may have been partly occupied by the medieval hall of the Noveray manor, (fn. 8) probably moated, and the water mill mentioned in 1440. (fn. 9) The evidence provided by the earliest buildings in the present village is consistent with a move towards the higher ground in the 17th century.
In 1086 Burton Overy was held by Hugh de Grentemesnil. (fn. 10) After Hugh's death it seems to have come, like much else of his land, (fn. 11) to Robert, Count of Meulan, for in 1124–9 it was being held by the count's son Robert, Earl of Leicester. (fn. 12) Burton Overy remained in the hands of the earls of Leicester (fn. 13) until after the death in 1204 of Earl Robert FitzParnell without male heirs when his lands were divided between his two sisters. Burton evidently fell to the share of the younger sister Margaret, wife of Saer de Quency, later Earl of Winchester, for her son Roger (d. 1264), 2nd Earl of Winchester, was in possession of it. (fn. 14) That part of Robert FitzParnell's lands which fell to the earls of Winchester became known as the honor of Winchester, and of that honor Burton for the future formed part.
It is not clear how Burton Overy was held under Hugh de Grentemesnil and the earls of Leicester and Winchester. William de Warda, who appears as claiming a knight's fee in Burton in or before 1177, (fn. 15) may have been an under-tenant holding land at Burton Overy under the Earl of Leicester, for the de la Warde family were certainly under-tenants there in the 13th century. (fn. 16) It is not until after the death of Earl Roger de Quency in 1264 and the division of his lands amongst his three daughters that more complete information about the under-tenants can be obtained. At the partition of Earl Roger's holdings, not completed until 1277, all three of his daughters obtained property in Burton Overy. Margaret, wife of William (de Ferrers), Earl of Derby, obtained 2½ virgates held by Osbert de Bereford, (fn. 17) and some more important property held by Robert de la Warde. (fn. 18) Ellen la Zouche obtained 2 virgates in Burton Overy held by William de la Hay, (fn. 19) and Elizabeth, wife of Alexander Comyn, Earl of Buchan, obtained lands in Burton held by Robert de Noveray. (fn. 20) It is evident that by 1277 the Earl of Winchester's lands at Burton had been subinfeudated in a rather complicated fashion. From this point onwards the various holdings must be dealt with separately.
The descent of the FERRERS manor will be described first. Robert de la Warde, who appears as a vassal of Margaret de Ferrers at Burton in 1277, (fn. 21) was already holding lands there from the honor of Winchester in 1271. (fn. 22) In 1279 his lands in Burton Overy were said to be one knight's fee. (fn. 23) Margaret de Ferrers transmitted the overlordship of the holding to her second son William de Ferrers; (fn. 24) Robert de la Warde was said in 1307 to have held a manor in Burton from William's son as two-thirds of a knight's fee. (fn. 25) The overlordship of this holding was possessed by the Ferrers family, and then by the family of Grey of Groby, which succeeded to the Ferrers lands, (fn. 26) until after the death of Edward (Grey), Lord Ferrers of Groby, in 1457. (fn. 27) There is no later reference to the Greys as overlords of the manor, but it is probable that they retained their rights until Henry (Grey), Duke of Suffolk, was attainted in 1554, when his property was forfeited to the Crown, for in 1607 it was said that certain lands at Burton were held directly of the king by reason of the duke's attainder. (fn. 28) Despite the attainder, however, the earls of Stamford, who were the duke's descendants, in the 18th and 19th centuries claimed certain rights in Burton Overy as lords of the honor of Winchester, or as lords of a manor which formed part of the honor. (fn. 29) When the parish was inclosed in 1765 a small allotment of land was made to the Earl of Stamford in compensation for his rights. (fn. 30) In the late 19th century the earls of Stamford were sometimes said to be the lords of a manor at Burton, but the nature of the Greys' position there does not ever seem to have been clarified. (fn. 31) The 7th Earl of Stamford, at his death in 1883 without issue, devised his rights at Burton Overy, with the rest of his Leicestershire property, to his widow the Countess of Stamford and Warrington. (fn. 32) The countess retained the rights until her death in 1905, and subsequently they remained in the hands of her trustees. (fn. 33)
So far as the under-tenants are concerned, when Robert de la Warde died in or before 1307, his heirs were his two daughters Joan, wife of Hugh de Meynill, and Margaret. (fn. 34) Both obtained portions of their father's holding at Burton Overy. (fn. 35) Margaret, daughter of Robert de la Warde, may be identified with the Margaret Nevill, kinswoman and heir of Robert, who was holding land at Burton from the Ferrers family in 1371. (fn. 36) A fee in Burton Overy held by Margaret Nevill from the Ferrers overlords is mentioned in 1445 and in 1457. (fn. 37) As by those dates Margaret must have been dead for many years, it is difficult to ascertain the descent of the lands that she once held; they may have become united with the other fiefs held by the Ferrers family at Burton Overy, while still continuing to be listed separately in the inquisitions post mortem. The lands inherited from Robert de la Warde by his daughter Joan continued to be held by her descendants, the Meynill family, until the death in 1376 of Richard Meynill. (fn. 38) Richard's widow Joan held his manor at Burton until her death in 1398. (fn. 39) Richard Meynill left no male heirs, and his lands were divided amongst his four daughters. According to Nichols (fn. 40) Richard's lands at Burton Overy fell to his eldest daughter Joan, who married first John Staunton of Staunton Harold, and secondly Thomas Clinton. Ralph Shirley, who appears in 1428 as holding one knight's fee in Burton Overy formerly held by the Meynills, (fn. 41) was Joan's son-in-law, (fn. 42) and presumably owed his holding to this connexion, though as Joan was still living long after 1428 it is not clear what Shirley's position was. Joan, by her will dated 1453, (fn. 43) left her property to be divided between her grandsons Thomas Francis and John Shirley. John Shirley certainly acquired some of his grandmother's lands at Burton Overy, but does not seem to have been the lord of a manor there, (fn. 44) and in 1557 the Shirley property at Burton was sold to John Bale of Carlton Curlieu, (fn. 45) who amassed considerable property in Burton and the adjacent parishes. (fn. 46) The Francis family also seem to have acquired some property at Burton, perhaps including the manor. (fn. 47) The fate of the Ferrers manor after 1453 is obscure, (fn. 48) and, divided between various owners, it seems to have ceased to exist, the only surviving trace of it being the vague rights at Burton Overy held by the Grey family.
At the partition of the honor of Winchester in 1277 the NOVERAY manor at Burton was allotted to Elizabeth, wife of the Earl of Buchan. (fn. 49) Between 1264 and 1277 the de Noveray lands at Burton had for a time been held from Margaret de Ferrers, Elizabeth's sister and co-heir. (fn. 50) In 1279 John de Noveray, son of the Robert de Noveray who was mentioned in the partition of 1277, (fn. 51) was holding 5 carucates and 2½ virgates in serjeanty at Burton Overy. (fn. 52) The de Noveray family were associated with the village well before 1277, and in 1260 it was already known as Burton Noveray. (fn. 53) The overlordship of the Noveray manor was held by the earls of Buchan until the death in 1308 of John Comyn, Earl of Buchan, whose lands descended to his niece, the wife of Henry de Beaumont. (fn. 54) The Beaumonts remained overlords of the manor until at least 1432, when John, Lord Beaumont, was seised of it. (fn. 55) Under the Beaumonts the manor was held by the de Noveray family, who were probably the tenants in demesne. (fn. 56) After 1432 there is no further record of any connexion between it and the Beaumonts. The de Noveray family seem to have lost control of it by 1409, when it was alleged that Isabel, relict of John Walssh, and others had disseised Robert Abbot, Agnes his wife, and John Overy (fn. 57) of a manor at Burton, (fn. 58) which Isabel was holding in dower. (fn. 59) In 1440 Thomas Walssh of Wanlip, brother of Isabel's husband John, was holding a manor at Burton, (fn. 60) and it seems probable from the case of 1409 that it was the manor formerly held by the de Noveray family. The Walssh family retained the manor until the death of Thomas Walssh, nephew of the Thomas Walssh previously mentioned, when his possessions were divided between his two granddaughters. An agreement of 1526 about the manor seems to have left it in the hands of Sir Thomas Pulteney of Misterton, husband of one of the granddaughters, (fn. 61) for in the 18th century it was known as PULTENEY'S manor. (fn. 62) It is not known when the manor passed out of the hands of Pulteney or his heirs, but in 1605 it was held by Francis Hodges, (fn. 63) who in 1618 sold it to John Nedham. (fn. 64) The Nedham family were still in possession of the manor in 1673, (fn. 65) but by 1724 it had passed to Sir Geoffrey Palmer. (fn. 66) In 1877 one of the Palmer family was still lord of a manor at Burton Overy, (fn. 67) but after that date the Noveray manor seems to have been allowed to disappear.
In 1317 it was stated that the lands of Theobald de Verdon, then deceased, included ½ knight's fee in Burton Overy, held by the heirs of Robert de Normanville. (fn. 68) The earlier history of the holding is unknown. The overlordship continued to be held by the Verdons until 1360, when it descended to William de Ferrers, son of Henry de Ferrers and Isabel, daughter of the last Verdon lord. (fn. 69) From 1360 onwards the overlordship descended in the same way as that of the other Ferrers holdings at Burton Overy. (fn. 70) Under the Verdons the tenement, or part of it, was at one time held by Thomas de Basingges, who was dead by 1360, (fn. 71) and subsequently it was held by John Basingges. (fn. 72) Half a knight's fee in Burton Overy held by the heir of John Basingges is mentioned in 1457–8, (fn. 73) but the holding is not subsequently referred to.
In 1277 Ellen, wife of Alan la Zouche, obtained as her share of the Winchester inheritance at Burton Overy only 2 virgates held by William de la Hay. (fn. 74) In 1301 Simon of Wigston was granted a licence to alienate in mortmain to a chantry at Wigston Magna property which included 40s. rent from 2 virgates in Burton Overy held from Alan la Zouche. (fn. 75) There is no later reference to land held by the Zouche family at Burton.
In 1086 Hugh de Grentemesnil was holding 12 carucates at Burton Overy; he had 8 serfs in demesne, with 3 ploughs; there were also 6 socmen, 15 villeins, and 5 bordars, with 6 ploughs in all among them. There were 14 a. of meadow. (fn. 76) In 1124–9 there were again 12 carucates. (fn. 77) In 1279 the two manors in Burton Overy, held by Robert de la Warde and John de Noveray, both contained land held in demesne, with free and villein tenants; de la Warde's holding consisted of one carucate held in demesne, 2 carucates and 3 virgates held by 4 free tenants, and 2 carucates and one virgate held in villeinage; the de Noveray manor consisted of 1½ carucate in demesne, with 3 carucates and ½ virgate held by free tenants, and 2 virgates held in villeinage. (fn. 78) A document of 1307 gives some details of the demesne farm of the de la Warde manor: 2 barns, 2 cowsheds, and a stable are mentioned, together with gardens, and pasture held in severalty; the labour services of tenants are also mentioned, though not described in detail. (fn. 79) A plot of hay meadow held by Robert de la Warde, apparently in severalty, is mentioned elsewhere. (fn. 80) In 1304 John de Noveray claimed that one of his tenants was holding a messuage and 2 bovates by the service of making 3 ploughshares yearly; the tenant claimed that he was only bound to make 2 ploughshares a year. (fn. 81) Forty-five acres of meadow at Burton were acquired by John de Noveray in 1315, but it is not clear whether they were held in severalty. (fn. 82) Information is given in a document of 1440 about the manor-house held by Thomas Walssh at Burton; it included a hall, 2 chambers, a kitchen, 2 barns, and a stable. (fn. 83) The existence of such a house suggests that the Walssh family, while lords of a manor at Burton, may have at times lived in the village, though they had another manor-house at Wanlip. (fn. 84) The Nedham family, when they possessed the Pulteney manor, seem to have lived at Burton, for their pew in the parish church is mentioned in 1639. (fn. 85) It does not appear that either the Palmer family, who had a seat at Carlton Curlien nearby, (fn. 86) or the earls of Stamford ever lived in the parish.
It is evident that by the end of the Middle Ages part of Burton Overy was already inclosed to form pasture and meadow held in severalty. Fines of the 16th and early 17th centuries mention considerable areas of meadow and pasture held by individuals, (fn. 87) besides common of pasture. A very detailed agreement about tithes, concluded in 1622 between the rector and the parishioners, shows that there were at that date many closes for producing hay, but it is not clear whether they were individually owned. (fn. 88) The will of George Smith, made in 1624, shows that he owned 6 closes, apart from the one adjacent to his homestead. (fn. 89) In the late 17th century there was some encroachment on the common land of the village; in 1673 10 persons were said to be living on the common and waste, (fn. 90) and in 1691 3 of the inhabitants were fined in the court of Pulteney's manor for encroaching on the common land. (fn. 91) The greater part of the parish remained uninclosed until 1765. In the 17th and 18th centuries the village arable was divided into three fields. (fn. 92) In 1622 hemp and flax were being cultivated. (fn. 93)
In 1765 a petition in favour of inclosing the common fields of Burton Overy was made to the House of Commons by a number of persons, in cluding John Lee, the patron and rector. (fn. 94) When the bill was brought in, 6 persons, owning in all 7/8 virgate, refused to support it, though they did not appear in opposition before the committee of the House which considered the bill. (fn. 95) Only 3 of these persons are mentioned in the inclosure award; all 3 received allotments of less than 10 a. (fn. 96) The bill was passed in 1765 (fn. 97) and the award (fn. 98) was made in 1766. It provided that the rector, as tithe owner, should receive 1/7 and 2/15 of all the land remaining after the allotment to him for the glebe had first been made, in lieu of tithes from the whole parish, including houses and gardens, but not including the two windmills, which were to be tithed as hitherto. The rector obtained 245 a. in commutation of tithe and 45 a. for glebe, making him the largest landowner in the parish. It was provided that for the future he was not to be obliged to keep a boar for the parish, as rectors had previously been. Sir John Palmer, as lord of a manor in Burton, received 14 a. and the Earl of Stamford, as lord of the honor of Winchester, obtained 3 a. Neither received any other allotment. Apart from the rector, there were 2 landowners each of whom was allotted over 200 a.; one of these was Henry Coleman. Below these were a group of 7 owners, whose allotments varied from 60 to just over 100 a. No one else obtained more than 35 a. There were 19 allotments of between 10 and 35 a., 14 of between 1 and 10 a., and 8 of less than an acre. (fn. 99) A plot of land was set aside for sheepwashing, and it was provided that the herbage from the verges of fenced roads was to belong to the parish surveyors of roads. The total area inclosed was 1,779 a. and the cost of the Act and award, with the related expenses, was £1,330.
The award shows that in 1765 the ownership of land in the parish was divided among a considerable number of people, none of whom could be said to occupy a dominant position. Such a situation probably existed as early as the mid-16th century, for conveyances of property in the 16th and 17th centuries show that there were then several fairly substantial landowners in the parish. (fn. 100) The land tax assessments show that up to 1832 at least this situation remained substantially unchanged. (fn. 101) After inclosure much land in the parish seems to have been used as pasture, for a description of Burton Overy as it was in 1790 mentions the opulent graziers living there. (fn. 102)
In the early 19th century industry was for a time important at Burton Overy. In 1801 214 persons in the parish were chiefly engaged in trade and manufactures, compared with only 55 employed chiefly in agriculture. (fn. 103) Thirty years later there were still nearly as many families engaged in trade and manufacture as in agriculture, though the latter was the most important occupation. (fn. 104) Those engaged in trade and industry were probably employed chiefly in framework-knitting, for in 1844 there were 20 stocking frames in the village. (fn. 105) Hosiery manufacture at Burton does not seem ever to have developed into a factory industry, and the village has been without industry of any kind during the 20th century.
Two mills at Burton Overy were mentioned in 1314 and 1315, when they belonged to John de Noveray. (fn. 106) In 1440 a watermill at Burton was owned by Thomas Walssh, (fn. 107) who had probably succeeded to the Noveray property at Burton. (fn. 108) This is the only known reference to a watermill at Burton Overy; presumably it stood on the stream, to the west of the church. (fn. 109) In 1646 there was a windmill at Burton. (fn. 110) One of the open fields of the village was known as Mill Field in 1626 and later. (fn. 111) At the inclosure there were two windmills in the parish, one of which was situated in the open fields. (fn. 112) By 1835 both mills had apparently ceased to exist. (fn. 113)
The account of the overseers of the poor for 1724 shows that £49 was raised by a rate and £45 spent on the poor. (fn. 114) Although the early accounts do not appear to tally with detailed disbursement books which have survived, (fn. 115) it is clear that for 30 years after 1724 the amount expended did not greatly vary. Notable increases in expenditure took place after 1763 and after 1796. The rate raised £54 in 1761, but £124 in 1769; similarly the rate raised an annual average of £192 in 1783–5, but £372 in 1796. (fn. 116) In 1802–3 £564 was spent on the poor from a total of £714 raised. (fn. 117)
During the 19th century, in spite of nonconformist opposition, the parish raised several church rates for repairs to the church fabric, usually of 2d. in the pound. (fn. 118) In 1851 and 1852 rates of 6d. and 7½d. in the pound raised £77 and £96 respectively. (fn. 119)
Before the parish was included in the Billesdon Union in 1836 it maintained its own workhouse. In the earliest surviving disbursement book of the overseers, for 1761, there are regular payments of 4s. a month for the workhouse. In the late 18th century the workhouse was run by a master working under contract with the overseers for a lump sum and regular weekly payments. Seven contracts between 1774 and 1806 have survived. For instance, in 1806 Esau Pearce, a woollen manufacturer from Kibworth, agreed to run the workhouse in return for £430 a year by weekly instalments. (fn. 120) In 1802–3 12 persons were permanently relieved in the workhouse while 69 adults and 88 children received out-door relief. (fn. 121) In 1846 the vestry agreed that the Billesdon Union should sell some houses and gardens (13 tenants named) belonging to the parish for the use of the poor. (fn. 122)
The parish chest contains a number of settlement certificates, removal orders, apprenticeship indentures, and similar documents. (fn. 123) The apprenticeship indenture book, 1804–31, contains 19 entries including 8 framework-knitters, 4 framesmiths, and 3 blacksmiths; all the boys except one were apprenticed in Leicester.
In 1204 the church of Burton Overy belonged to the Norman monastery of St. Evroul (Orne), which may originally have obtained it from Hugh de Grentemesnil, one of the monastery's founders. (fn. 126)
St. Evroul retained the advowson during the 13th and 14th centuries, presentations to the benefice being usually made by the Prior of Ware, a cell of St. Evroul in England. (fn. 127) A pension was paid by the rector to St. Evroul or to Ware Priory. (fn. 128) In the 14th and early 15th centuries the advowson, like other English possessions of French religious houses, was for long periods in the king's hands, and from 1339 onwards the king repeatedly presented to the living. (fn. 129) In 1415 Henry V granted all the possessions of Ware Priory to the new Carthusian monastery at Sheen (Surr.), (fn. 130) which retained the advowson until the Dissolution. (fn. 131) In 1552 the advowson was granted to Lord Clinton and Saye. (fn. 132) In 1576 a presentation to the rectory was made by William Warde, yeoman, (fn. 133) and after Warde's death the advowson descended to his daughter Anne, (fn. 134) wife of Francis Hodges. From Anne and Francis Hodges the advowson passed in 1599 to William Burditt. (fn. 135) It was still in the hands of the Burditts in 1660, (fn. 136) though during the Interregnum their possession of it seems to have been disturbed. (fn. 137) Subsequently the advowson changed hands repeatedly in a short period; Thomas Grey, for one turn only, presented in 1667, and three persons— Abbot, Sherard, and Yates—in 1710. (fn. 138) In 1753 the rector, Paul Southworth (d. 1768), acquired the advowson for himself, and in 1758 settled it on his daughter on her marriage with John Lee who was immediately presented to the living. (fn. 139) The advowson remained in the hands of the rector's family. Frances, daughter of W. S. Lee, rector 1786–1801, married Thomas Thorp, rector 1811–46, (fn. 140) and the advowson passed to their eldest son, Capt. William Thorp, R.N. (d. 1890), who presented his younger brothers, Robert (d. 1851) and Frederic (d. 1916). (fn. 141) The advowson was subsequently acquired by Barwell Ewins Bennett (d. 1895) of Marston Trussell (Northants.). He was succeeded by his grandson Henry Bennett Dain, who assumed the name Henry Bennett Ewins Barwell Ewins. (fn. 142) Ewins died in 1920 and was succeeded by his brother Charles (d. 1951), whose daughter Catherine Barwell Ewins of Cracknells, Yarmouth (I.O.W.), was patron in 1958. (fn. 143)
The gross annual value of the rectory in 1254 and 1291 was 16 marks. (fn. 144) In 1535 the value was given as £21 10s. gross or £18 5s. 7¼d. net. (fn. 145) At the inclosure of the open fields (1765–6) the rector was allotted 245 a. in lieu of tithes and 45 a. in lieu of glebe, but in the late 19th century the area of glebe was only 272 a. (fn. 146) In 1875 the estimated annual value of the living was £497; (fn. 147) in 1948 it was £434 gross or £365 net with the Rectory. (fn. 148)
The Rectory, which stands immediately west of the churchyard, is a fine early-18th-century brick house of two stories and attics. Both east and west fronts have recessed central bays which contain the doorways and which are flanked by slightly projecting wings with hipped roofs and dormers. The east front has been altered by additions of the early 19th century and later. (fn. 149) Internally there is a good contemporary oak staircase.
The church of ST. ANDREW consists of chancel, nave, north aisle, a large chapel to the north of the chancel, west tower of three stages, and south porch. The building is of ironstone with limestone dressings, and there has been a considerable amount of re-facing in limestone ashlar, particularly to the porch and to the upper part of the tower. The tower dates from the late 13th and early 14th centuries and is without buttresses. At some period the walls have been tied in with iron bands. The narrow tower arch has moulded capitals and bases. The rest of the church also appears to have been rebuilt from c. 1300 onwards, (fn. 150) although some mixed rubble masonry near the west end of the north aisle may be part of an earlier building. The aisle has a 14thcentury north doorway and a west window with forking tracery. Two buttresses, probably of similar date, have been removed from the outer wall, which has been raised in height. The arcade of three bays has circular piers with moulded capitals and pointed arches of two chamfered orders. At the eastern respond the arch rests on a grotesque corbel-head. A low clerestory was added above the arcade in the 15th century and the south porch is of similar date. The chancel contains a 14th-century piscina and three sedilia with ogee heads, but the whole of the east end of the church was remodelled and raised in height when the north chapel was added in the late 15th or early 16th century. The chapel forms a continuation of the north aisle, the east wall of the latter having been entirely removed. The chancel and the chapel are two tall spacious structures divided by a two-bay arcade of fully-developed Perpendicular work, having four-centred arches and a composite central pier. East of the arcade a square-headed doorway, surmounted by quatrefoil ornament, connects the sanctuary with the chapel and near it there is a small piscina in the south wall of the chapel. Both chancel and chapel have large east windows with similar Perpendicular tracery. Externally the east end of the church consists of two identical gables with a boldly projecting gargoyle between them. There are tall Perpendicular windows in the north and south walls, three being in the chancel and two in the chapel. The carved oak chancel screen is probably contemporary. It consists of eight bays, filled with tracery, the two central bays forming the doorway opening. The cresting is modern. Perpendicular work of the quality found at the east end of the church is comparatively rare in this district.
Most of the windows in the body of the church were inserted or replaced at the end of the medieval period or later. The roof of the north aisle may have been entirely renewed in 1636, a date which appears on one of the beams. The west gable of the chapel roof, which is higher than that of the aisle, rests on the easternmost tie beam and has been built up in brickwork, probably at the same period. The south porch was repaired early in the 17th century. In 1619 the paving of the church was reported to be incomplete and the west window in the tower was partly blocked with brickwork. (fn. 151) In 1639 the visiting archdeacon ordered the sanctuary floor to be raised and alterations to be made to the excessively large pews of several leading parishioners, including that of the Nedham family. (fn. 152) The tower was reported to be in bad condition in 1718 (fn. 153) and was later restored. In the last quarter of the 18th century general repairs to the fabric were carried out, including the re-plastering of the tower. The roofs of both chancel and chapel were renewed between 1830 and 1832, (fn. 154) and the church was re-pewed in 1839. (fn. 155)
A thorough restoration was put in hand between 1864 and 1868, reflecting the changing taste of the period. It was reported that 'the war against stucco has broken out' at Burton Overy. (fn. 156) A gallery was removed, the chancel was re-roofed, the west end of the aisle was restored, the west window of the tower was replaced, new fittings were installed, and stucco was stripped from the walls, both inside and out. (fn. 157) The roof was restored in 1907 (fn. 158) and the north chapel in 1932. (fn. 159) The oak screen which forms a vestry at the west end of the aisle was inserted in 1939. (fn. 160) In 1952 the lead roofs of the chancel, chapel, and tower were replaced by copper. (fn. 161)
The tapered circular font probably dates from the 13th century. The church contains an iron-bound oak chest over 8 ft. in length. Above the tower arch is a finely carved and coloured royal arms of the 18th century. The pulpit and pews date from the restoration of 1864–8 and the desk from 1957. (fn. 162) In the chancel is the union flag carried by H.M. Gunboat Thursk in 1890–1 and presented by Admiral C. F. Thorp. (fn. 163)
The chancel contains floor slabs to former rectors and members of their families, including the wife of Theophilus Burdet (d. 1681), Henry Burdet (d. 1709), Chapman Dolby (d. 1742), Thomas Thorp (d. 1846), and Robert Thorp (d. 1851). In the chapel are slabs to the Woodward family (c. 1800) and others. Among an unusually large number of mural tablets of the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the most impressive is one in coloured marbles by Firmadge of Leicester (fn. 164) to Henry Coleman (d. 1779). Members of his family (1761–1843) were also buried in the family vault below the nave and commemorated by mural tablets. Other memorials include those to Frances (d. 1792), wife of the Revd. W. Southworth Lee (also by Firmadge), John Nichols (d. 1815), John Woodruffe (d. 1820), Christian Ann Fawcett and her infant son (d. 1823), the Revd. W. S. Lee (d. 1828), and John Moore (d. 1844).
The registers begin in 1575 but there are gaps in baptisms from 1645 to 1653, in burials from 1787 to 1790, and in marriages from 1753 to 1755 and 1759 to 1761. In 1777 John Weston gave a chalice, paten, and almsdish, the cost of the almsdish being met partly by the sale of the existing communion plate. The plate also includes a silver dish of 1852 and a 19th-century flagon, both given by a number of parishioners. (fn. 165) There are three bells: (i) 1632; (ii) 1616; (iii) 1616. (fn. 166) The second was recast and all three were re-hung in 1956. (fn. 167)
In 1718 there were reported to be 6 Presbyterians and 8 Independents at Burton Overy. (fn. 168) A house at Burton belonging to one of the Coleman family, who were then prominent in the village, was licensed in 1716 for the worship of Protestant dissenters, whose denomination is not recorded. (fn. 169) In 1726 Daniel Woodruffe's house in the parish was similarly licensed. (fn. 170) A Congregational chapel was built in 1855, (fn. 171) a red-brick building with stone dressings, having a central porch flanked by Gothic windows with interlacing tracery. It stands in a small graveyard.
In the early 18th century there was an endowment for the maintenance of a school for poor children at Burton Overy, but it is not certain that the school existed and there was no mention of the endowment in the 1837 Charity Commission report. (fn. 172) In 1833 the village contained a day school attended by 34 boys educated at their parents' expense, and a Sunday school belonging to the parish church, the master of which received £4 a year from the charity of Mrs. Catherine Palmer. (fn. 173) The income from this charity, reduced to £3 6s. 8d. a year, was still being paid to the Sunday school in 1958. (fn. 174) The capital sum bequeathed by Mrs. Palmer was £100. The date of the bequest is unknown, but in 1818 it was declared that her executors held the money in trust. (fn. 175)
A school was erected and opened in 1857, and was affiliated with the National Society. The building which was then considered capable of accommodating over 80 children cost £230, (fn. 176) and was in use in 1958. Burton Overy National School received its first state grant in 1870 when the average number of children attending was 51. (fn. 177) The average attendance in 1878 was 63, and in 1910 54. (fn. 178) In August 1911 the school was considered to be overcrowded because of the attendance of children from Illston, and the County Council sent the latter back to Illston school. (fn. 179) In 1931 Burton Overy (C. of E.) School was confined to children of junior age, the seniors being sent to Oadby. (fn. 180) The average attendance of juniors in 1933 was 29. (fn. 181) In 1953 the school accepted 'aided' status under the local authority, and in 1957 the attendance of junior and infants was 20. (fn. 182)
The sum of £64, originating partly from a number of minor donations, and partly from other charitable funds, was used at an unknown date to buy land at Burton. At the inclosure of 1765 the churchwardens of the parish were allotted slightly more than 3 a. of land in respect of the charity. In 1837 the land was being rented for £10 10s. yearly, which was used to provide doles of bread at Easter and of meat at Christmas. (fn. 183) By 1932 the income had fallen to £7 5s. yearly. (fn. 184) It was £13 in 1956. (fn. 185) In 1829 William Woodward bequeathed £200 for the purchase of stock, the interest on which was to be used to provide a dole of bread at Burton Overy at Christmas. The income from this gift was £5 in 1956. (fn. 186) At some time between 1786 and 1837 Ann Woodruffe bequeathed £19 19s., the interest from which was to be given to 6 poor widows of the parish at Midsummer. (fn. 187) In 1956 the trustees received 13s. 6d. in respect of this gift. (fn. 188) By will proved in 1838 B. F. Coleman left an endowment to provide 8s. annually for 8 poor widows or householders of Burton Overy. From 1874 this gift was represented by £13 6s. 8d. stock, which yielded 6s. 8d. in 1956. (fn. 189) Between 1581 and 1623 William Warde devised a rent-charge of £1 yearly from land called the Town Close at Burton Overy. (fn. 190) In 1837 the rent-charge was received by the rector who used it to provide bibles for Sundayschool children, (fn. 191) though it was recorded as a gift for the benefit of the poor. Payments were discontinued some years before 1862, and the charity was considered lost in 1892. (fn. 192) All the surviving charities were united by a Scheme of 1921, and in 1956 they received a total income of £19 0s. 2d. (fn. 193)